CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Some make excuses for their failures, while others work to eliminate them for the chance of better success in subsequent attempts.
Kashuan Haley's absence from the Capital lineup during the Cougars' 42-23 home loss to Musselman during the first round of the 2012 Class AAA playoffs underscored a life-long deficiency possessed by the school that opened in 1989. The team never had a weight training facility in close vicinity of where it practiced or played games.
That fact has since been changed, as in the off-season the Cougars added a weight room to their digs at University of Charleston Stadium.
Facilities are helpful, but when they're paired with a change in mindset they can make a world of difference. Cougars Coach Jon Carpenter said he's seen the proof in Haley's evolution during the past nine months.
"I think his work ethic and his attitude are catching up with his athletic ability," Carpenter said of the junior, who was a second team All-State pick as a sophomore.
"He's been a fixture in the weight room.
"I kind of joke with him saying I don't know if he'd be willing to put shoulder pads and a jersey on come football, he got his arms and chest so big I thought he might be wanting to be a body builder," Carpenter said with his tongue planted squarely in his cheek.
Haley was Capital's second-leading rusher in 2012 (777 yards and nine touchdowns on 85 carries) and had a total of six touchdowns on returns of punts, kickoffs and interceptions. He sustained an ankle injury against Woodrow Wilson on Oct. 26 then played sparingly at Huntington a week later in Capital's regular-season finale.
He stood on the sidelines in his jersey and jeans against Musselman.
"I've been boosted up since when I got hurt and then we didn't make it to the next round of the playoffs," Haley said. "If we would have made it, I'd have played that game, no doubt.
"I've been lifting with the team, I've been lifting by myself and I've been riding a little bicycle and everything, so I've been trying to regroup and get my ankle together," Haley said.
Carpenter reiterated the importance of an on-site weight room in assessing Haley's situation last season.
"He kind of limped on the rest of the season. That was a big thing about us getting a weight room over here," he said. "If you can't lift weights all through football season you take all those nagging injuries.
"He took one and couldn't get over it, and I think it taught him a lesson, and he's prepared himself a lot better."
The fourth-year coach said the bigger change in Haley's game might be seen in his approach to practice.
"He's not a yeller or a screamer, but he's helping the young guys out. When you talk about leaders, you're talking about being a coach on the field, and it's neat to see him morph into that role," Carpenter said.